Despite formal boycott, PA engages with officials from US embassy in Jerusalem


Staff member
Despite formal boycott, PA engages with officials from US embassy in Jerusalem
Abbas meeting with senior embassy personnel, but Palestinian official says policy unchanged and officials in Ramallah won’t meet local US diplomats until consulate reopened
By Jacob Magid
9 October 2021

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been meeting with senior US officials based out of the embassy in Jerusalem in recent months, despite ordering his own diplomats not to do so, officials in Washington and Ramallah have confirmed to The Times of Israel. The shift in policy began shortly after the Biden administration announced that it would reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem, which historically served as a de facto mission to the Palestinians. Diplomats in the office worked closely with Palestinian counterparts in Jerusalem until former president Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the flashpoint city five months later.

The PA severed ties with the Trump administration, which went on to shutter its Jerusalem consulate. While the State Department described the move as an efficiency measure, it was seen by many as effectively downgrading relations with the Palestinians; diplomats who work with the PA were placed under the aegis of the US Embassy to Israel as part of a department known as the Palestinian Affairs Unit. But diplomats in the unit have been limited in their work as Palestinian officials have been barred from meeting with them for the past two years.

Washington and Ramallah have renewed contact since US President Joe Biden took office, but the directive regarding the US Embassy in Jerusalem, which Abbas branded a “settlement outpost,” has remained in place, and US officials in the unit have had little official contact with Ramallah-based counterparts. Instead, senior Palestinian officials liaised with the Biden administration via Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr, who is based in Washington, according to PA officials.